By DEEPTI HAJELA
NEW YORK (AP) — A 66-year-old man who saved himself from a rampaging U-Haul truck driver with a frantic leap on a Brooklyn sidewalk said he doesn’t know how he managed to escape.
Mohamed Abdelmagid, a car service driver, was strolling to his dispatch office Monday morning when he looked up from his phone just in time to see the truck barrel onto the sidewalk.
His reaction was caught on surveillance video — an attempt to sidestep the rushing truck and then a desperate dive to the concrete that sent him to the hospital with cracked ribs and a fractured ankle. The truck passed so close, Abdelmagid said it clipped his foot as he dove.
Then, the prone Abdelmagid was nearly run over by a police car flying up the sidewalk in pursuit of the U-Haul.
“I don’t know what happened,” Abdelmagid told The Associated Press by phone Tuesday as he was waiting to be discharged from the hospital. “I go to (the) right. After that I go to (the) left and I jumped.”
He joked that it was his physical education training from growing up in Egypt that served him well.
“That’s why I’m still young,” he said. “I’m 66, but I look like 46.”
Abdelmagid was lucky to survive. The truck, driven by a man with a history of violence and mental illness, hit at least nine people as it wove through the streets of Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge section.
One man, age 44, died from a head injury as the truck veered into scooters and cyclists and drove onto sidewalks.
The man driving the U-Haul, identified by his son as Weng Sor, 62, was arrested after police were able to corner the truck near the entrance to a highway tunnel leading from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Authorities were still considering what charges to file.
Sor’s son told The Associated Press his father has a history of mental illness and had been living in Las Vegas until recently. According to records, he served time for multiple acts of violence, including stabbing his brother.
Mayor Eric Adams said the man who died was a single father “raising those children on his own.”
“Just a terrible tragedy, and I just want to thank the New York City Police Department for taking appropriate actions to apprehend the driver,” the Democrat said Tuesday.
Abdelmagid is grateful to be alive. He has seen the video of him jumping for his life.
“I don’t believe it,” he said. “This is me.”
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